Thursday, November 12, 2015

Finishing up in Rabat; over to the Canary Islands

 As soon as we returned to the boat from our trip to Marrekesh, we started looking for the first weather window to scoot over from Rabat to the Canary Islands.  As mentioned previously, the constant swell along that stretch of African coast often causes the entrance to Rabat to be closed.  If swell is running higher than 1.8 meters then the entrance (and exit) is closed to traffic.  For the next week the swell was running 3.2 to 3.8 meter so we were stuck in Rabat.

There could be worse places to be stuck for an extra week.  We did not mind the delay because there was still plenty of time for us to get to Lanzarote in the Canary Islands before the rally seminars started on 9 Nov.  

One day we joined Virginia and Dennis of S/V Libertad for a day in the actual city of Rabat. We were all getting a little stir-crazy staying in the marina and needed an outing.  Virginia suggested the contemporary arts museum and lunch in the city and that sounded like an excellent idea.  

Literally walked the soles
off my shoes -- again.
I wore a pair of sneakers that had been stored for maybe 2 years; and, once again, my shoes disintegrated while walking in the city.  This is the fifth time this has happened in the past 9 1/2 years!  The sole on the left shoe completely separated off, leaving a moccasin type enclosure around my foot for the rest of the day.  Then a few hours later the sole on the right shoe also began to come off.  I don't know if it is the salt air environment or the heat on the boats that cause this, but it is annoying and little embarrassing when what appears to be a perfectly good shoe suddenly loses the sole.

Moroccan Andy Warhol?
Every item in this photo is made from a
bullet or shell casing.  Art from ammunition

The Mohammed VI Modern and Contemporary Art Museum was better than I had anticipated.  This is the first contemporary art museum in Morocco and fitting that it should be built in the nation's capital.  A pet project of the king.  This is a nice modern building, very different from the typical local architecture.

This museum has some very unusual works of art.  Here is a
bathtub made from the inner layer of lamb hides.

Pastillo for lunch
After a few hours of wandering through the 3 levels of the museum, we found a place for lunch -- down a wide alleyway off the most prominent street in this section of the city.  Virginia and I chose the pastilla so we could sample another type of Moroccan food.  It was made from chicken and almonds cooked inside a pastry; then the pastry is topped with sifted confectioners sugar and cinnamon.  I normally do not care for sweets and meats combined, but this was surprisingly good.  It actually tasted better with the sugar and cinnamon than the bites I tried without the sweet seasoning.

While eating lunch a protest started in the nearby main street.  Being in a country where we do not speak the language and having several thousand people marching in the street and yelling is a bit disconcerting.  I asked the cafe owner what they were protesting.  She explained that the university for medical study is located only a couple of blocks down the street and that these were students protesting the mandatory medical service they will be required to serve once they graduate.  The protest seemed to go on and on and on for a long time. Finally it broke up and we headed back to the light-rail tram to return to the marina.  Many of the young people on the tram carried rolled-up medical coats and lab coats, obviously having participated in the protest march.

One of the entrances of old walled city of Sale
One day we walked around Sale, the town on the northern side of the Bou Regreg River across from Rabat.  The marina is situated in Sale even though all the sailors call it the Rabat marina.  Sale is the home to nearly 1 million people, mostly factory workers; whereas, Rabat is the nation's capital and has many residents who work for the government, plus several universities.  Rabat is much more cosmopolitan than Sale.  We were surprised at how large the old walled city of Sale is; it appeared to be much larger than the old walled city of Rabat.  There are many woodworking factories in Sale and the workers are true craftsmen.

A small section of a corner of
walled city of Sale
The wall of old Sale went on for miles.
the tents are merchant stalls outside the old city.

Sale has always been known for stirring things up.  
This was where the first protests were held in the early 1950s that led to the national movement insisting upon independence from the French.  In the 1600s the town was infamous for its pirates known as the Salee Rovers.  This town was so famous for pirate activities that Daniel Defoe wrote the city into his novel 'Robinson Crusoe,' placing Robinson in the captivity of the Salee Rovers.

The very short finger piers at the marina have no cleats.
Lines are run around and through this large metal
protrusion at end of each finger pier. Works fine.

On Friday afternoon, 30 October 2015, at 15:45 we finally exited the Rio Bouregreg into the Atlantic.  There were 6 boats leaving the marina at the same time; we looked like a convoy.  Two boats were going down to Agadir, Morocco; and 4 of us were headed to Lanzarote, Canary Islands.  Our exit was at precisely slack high tide on a 3.6 meter tide, so depth going out was not problem whatsoever.  And the incoming swell was almost imperceptible because of that 3.6 meter tide.  Perfect timing as we all followed the marina guide boat out into the Atlantic.

Looking forward as we passed the Customs dock
headed outbound.  Old walled city of Rabat ahead.

The swell was there but was no problem because of the slack high tide.  If we looked closely at the boat in front of us we could see the effects of the swell.  But we did not feel it at all.

At same time, looking backwards at the other 4
boats in convoy behind us.

Passing the old walled city of Rabat was a bit sad as we said a final goodbye to not just Rabat but also to Morocco; and also to the continent of Africa.  Have no plans of ever returning to any place in Africa.  Glad Morocco was our introduction and farewell to the continent.

Old walled city of Rabat on our
left as we closely followed
S/V Pimentau, as they closely
followed the guide boat.

Swell was barely perceptible as we exited.
But look more closely. S/V Pimentau was up.

And then S/V Pimentau was down.

While looking behind us, these 2 boats first were up.

And then the left one was very much down,
while S/V Libertad on the right was still up.
So...yeah...there was some swell.

Goodbye Rabat!  Goodbye Africa!
Our routing toward Lanzarote would take us between 2 weather fronts.  The first one was coming up from the SW and the other was coming down from the NW.  The first one passed through and moved off to the east as we motor-sailed over the top of it.  Friday night conditions were okay and everything was comfortable until around 04:00 Saturday morning when we began to feel the effects of the second front from the NW.  For the next 36 hours the sea conditions were miserable; no fun at all!  The waves (swell) were 3.5 - 4 meters with winds 25 to 35 kts, mostly mid-twenties.  Everyone we talked to on the radio was seasick Saturday and Sunday, with the worst conditions being around Saturday midnight.  Bill was on bucket duty and we both were taking seasick meds.  I never upchucked but probably would have felt better if I had.  It was too rough to want to eat or drink anything and we let ourselves become a bit dehydrated.  We normally are very careful about forcing water even if not eating during rough weather like this.  And now we know to be even more pro-active about water consumption the next time.

The beginning of a rainbow welcoming us to Lanzarote.
The island is visible on left side.  A very welcome
sight after the seasick conditions for 2 days.

By 04:00 Monday morning the seas has subsided by half, down to barely over 2 meter waves and wind about 15 kts.  Our course allowed us to turn more southerly at this time and the remaining 10 hours into Lanzarote was much, much more comfortable.  Thank you, Lord, for small favors!  We each found something to eat and began sipping fluids.
This was what Bill found on deck when he went to
put away the preventer for the mizzen.  It was in
pieces.  Luckily, all pieces were still on deck.  This
shows why it is critical to check all rigging daily
when at sea!  We were lucky that it fell apart
after Bill had disconnected it when we were
finished using the mizzen sail downwind.

When we docked at Marina Lanzarote, several men came to help with our dock lines.  We were so tired that neither of us recognized these men.  After the lines were secure we looked around and saw 2 Amel boats docked nearby and then realized who the men were! More about that in a future posting.

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